SUN CITY CENTER – Three hundred area residents got the chance to securely ditch old documents, thanks to certified financial planner Gary Cotter.
As he has done for six years now, Cotter hired a commercial shredding truck and invited folks to come over, have some refreshments and discard anything with personal information on it – for free. “I hear all the time from victims of identity theft,” Cotter said. “People have all kinds of papers around the house they really don’t need to keep anymore with their birth dates, Social Security numbers and other account numbers. It’s not safe for them to just throw them away. There are those who actually poke around in people’s trash, so I offer this shred day as a community service.” Tom Betterley, a truck operator for Legal Shred, a company based in Apollo Beach, said the day was fruitful. He reported 45 bins of documents weighing 400 pounds apiece were shredded. That’s nine tons.
Cotter said folks were standing in line when the truck arrived and kept coming all day. Among them was Marge Connelly, owner of A-1 Connection Realty.
“I think it’s fabulous he does this every year,” she said. “I brought three years of files from my office to be shredded. I filled half a dozen boxes and took them over. It’s a gift to the community and a great, practical way for him to promote his business.”
Karen Sellers had Connelly beat. She delivered seven large boxes and 16 years of personal and business documents to the event.
“Thanks goodness for the shredding truck,” she said. “It would have taken me forever to shred all this myself. I was trying to do it at home and burned out my shredder.”
Cotter said he got the idea after talking with folks who were having trouble getting rid of documents with identifiable information on them. Over the years he added hot dogs, popcorn and drinks to make things fun and provide an additional incentive to come out.
Cotter was assisted at the event by Michael Cornelison, Cor and Diane Van Der Woude, Gerry Ritzinger and his wife, Shirley. Winn Dixie offered to compact the emptied boxes at no charge.
“We’re going to continue providing this free service because the need is there,” Cotter said. “Some people offer money but I tell them no. We do this as a public service.”